To a certain generation of comedy enthusiasts who grew up watching Nixon lie and the American economy die, National Lampoon was an iconic print forum for vulgar parody and satire. Douglas Tirola's swift documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead seeks to remind audiences of this fact, meticulously tracing every step of the humor magazine's evolution and impact on social and cultural issues.
During an opening montage that features confessionals from Kevin Bacon, Judd Apatow, Tim Matheson and more, John Goodman says, "National Lampoon blew the whole shit house up." He's of course referring to a specific time in the 1970s when governmental distrust, destructive foreign policy and stateside repression were becoming the norm on every nightly news program.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, which opens Friday, Oct. 9, examines how the creators of National Lampoon, Harvard grads Doug Kenney and Henry Beard, decided to test the limits of free speech and in turn "test the idiocy of our generation," as Lampoon contributor Chevy Chase so eloquently states. Tirola's film is given unmatched access to many Lampoon contributors and editors, plus rare archival footage that help paint a picture of the magazine's insane daily operations.
As the film's title would suggest, the Lampoon gang liked to party hard, and this lifestyle eventually cost some very talented people their lives. Tracing Doug Kenney's life and death feels especially bittersweet to the filmmakers and interviewees. Kenney was the insane lifeblood of the magazine that eventually went on to produce films in Hollywood, including Animal House and Caddyshack, before he died mysteriously in Hawaii.
National Lampoon's evolution from magazine to radio hour to film company is coherently traced, and always with the same vim and vigor that the writers and performers themselves would bring to the table. It's a rowdy snapshot of a bygone era when going crazy and talking wise was equivalent to challenging the status quo.
A Sinner in Mecca: Gay filmmaker Parez Sharma films his journey to Mecca on his Hajj pilgrimage in what becomes a documentary about identity, extremism and religious freedom. Screens through Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon: The iconic and vulgar humor magazine that inspired a generation of comedians in the 1970s gets a fitting and hilarious documentary.
Freeheld: Julianne Moore and Ellen Page star in this drama as a couple that fights to secure their pension when one finds out she has terminal cancer.
GI Film Festival San Diego: This multi-day film event celebrates the stories and perspectives of America's armed forces. Includes both international and local films. Runs from Tuesday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 18 at various area theaters. For more information visit kpbs.org/gifilmfestival.
He Named Me Malala: This documentary looks at the events leading up to a Taliban attack on a young girl who had the courage to speak out against their oppressive views on gender.
Pan: The big budget prequel to the iconic story about a forever-young boy that lives in a place called Neverland and his hunted by a pirate named Hook.
Partisan: Vincent Cassel stars as a charismatic cult leader who teaches his adolescent followers how to kill. Screens through Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Big Stone Gap: A long-buried family secret threatens to unravel the life of a small town spinster living in the Appalachian Mountains.
The Walk: Robert Zemeckis adapts the incredible true story of high-wire artist Philippe Petit and his quest to walk between the World Trade Center in 1974.
We Come as Friends: The exploitation of South Sudan is the focus of this expansive documentary from filmmaker Hubert Sauper (Darwin's Nightmare). Screens through Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
One Time Only
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: In this comedy starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Sacha Baron Cohen, a NASCAR superstar at the tip of his game is challenged by a French formula one champion. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Charade: Stanley Donen's famous romantic thriller stars Audrey Hepburn as a woman being pursued by several men seeking her dead husband's fortune. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 8 – 10 at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Little Birds: Juno Temple plays a restless teen that decides to enlist her friend's help to steal a car and drive to Los Angeles in the hopes of finding her first crush. Screens at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Age of Adeline: Blake Lively stars as a doe-eyed 20th century gal who's been granted the curse of everlasting life, forcing her to watch as all of her different spouses grow old and die. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie: Luis Bunuel's comic masterpiece skewers the arrogance and entitlement of the Spanish elite. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, at the San Diego Public Library in East Village.
The Spirit of the Beehive: After viewing the film Frankenstein, a young girl living in a Spanish village ventures into her own fantasy world in Victor Erice's classic magical realist drama. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.